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The Negro Soldier

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The Negro Soldier

Published 1943

WWII recruitment film aimed at African Americans. The film opens with an African American minister in church telling his flock why they should join the armed forces to fight the Nazis. We see historical re-enactments of African Americans as valued participants in US armed conflicts dating from the American Revolution. The balance of the film deals with the African American experience within the present war effort, the conditions of their living and training, with special attention paid to the respect and dignity they will have.

The quality of the original film is very good, however there are a few "issues" apparent in this copy, which was made from a video in the National Achives' collection:

- the original work was made up of 5 seperate film reels, there are some noticable breaks in continuity when the reels switch
- the framing of the film to video transfer was a bit off, so there is a border visible throughout
- there is occassional video dropout, probably due either to the age of the video tape at the National Archives

NAIL Control Number: NWDNM(m)-111-M-6022
ARC Identifier: 35956

Run time 40:23
Producer Frank Capra
Sponsor United States War Department
Audio/Visual sound, b/w


Directed by Stuart Heisler
Written by Carlton Moss
Music by Dimitri Tiomkin
Choral arrangements by Jester Hairston
Consultant: Brigadier General Benjamin O. Davis, Sr.

Carlton Moss .... Minister
Lt. Norman Ford .... Son


Reel 1, Negro soldiers and Women's Air Corps (WACs) attend church and go through an obstacle course. Boxer Joe Louis knocks out an opponent. Shows the U.S. and German flags, the Constitution, the graves of Boston massacre victims, the Bunker Hill Monument, a biography of Washington, and the Lincoln Memorial. Paintings and motion pictures show Negroes with George Washington crossing the Delaware and in other historic settings.

Reel 2 shows Negroes serving in the Spanish-American War, working on the Panama Canal, serving as judges and school teachers, conducting orchestras, playing football, and serving the U.S. Army in World War II. Includes scenes of Booker T. Washington's grave and his laboratory. Jesse Owens and other Negroes compete in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Shows Howard University, Hampton Institute, Tuskegee Institute, Prairie View College, and Fisk University. Shows Japanese and Germans planning and carrying out attacks on European cities, Chinese cities, and Pearl Harbor.

Reel 3 shows the wreckage in Pearl Harbor after the Japanese attack. Negroes join the Army, drill, and perform their Army duties. Negro WAC's work as dental assistants and frill.

Reel 4, Negro soldiers go through an obstacle course, receive commissions, and perform various Army duties. Includes scenes of Negro West Point officers, a Negro tank crew, and Negro cavalry units.

Reel 5 shows Negro soldiers in combat in Europe, constructing an airfield on a Pacific island, working on the Alcan highway, driving trucks, and firing artillery. Negro WAC's march in review. Negroes fire various types of Army weapons.


Reviewer: De La Paz - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - August 4, 2011
Subject: The influence of this film
I could see how this film was able to influence many African Americans to enlist in the U.S. Army. This film showcased African Americans in a positive athletes, lawyers, and other valued professionals. African Americans were portrayed as respectable and prominent individuals, instead of being portrayed as slaves as was accustomed during that time period, 1944.
Reviewer: pheret - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 1, 2008
Subject: the negro soldier
ok, first it is SO pick and choose in what is remembered. the civil war was COMPLETELY ignored, lol, and i suspect if you were one of the black actors in the film, it drove you CRAZY. i mean, it WAS made by the war dept.!

on the other hand, it is really great to get some pictures to go with all the historical black figures i learned about in school. also to see the clothing, the church, all of that is lovely to watch.

a bit washed out (to say the least) but worth watching for it's historical value and, actually, pretty interesting!

i give it a four cause the quality isn't great.
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